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Is gait normal after total knee arthroplasty? Systematic review of the literature

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Journal of Orthopaedic Science



Development or retention of abnormal gait patterns after total knee arthroplasty may be related to the predictable pattern of further deterioration of other lower extremity joints. The purpose of this study was to determine whether gait mechanics are abnormal after total knee arthroplasty by conducting a systematic review of the literature.


Articles were identified by searching the following electronic databases: PubMed, Cinahl, Web of Science: 221 references were retrieved. The titles and abstracts were reviewed to identify studies that potentially met the inclusion criteria. These articles were retrieved for further assessment. Ten articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review.


There was a lack of common variables across the studies. Studies indicated smaller peak knee flexion during weight acceptance and less knee flexion excursion in total knee arthroplasty subjects compared to controls. Knee angle at foot strike was generally similar in arthroplasty groups compared to controls. Maximum external knee flexion moment was generally lower in arthroplasty groups compared to controls. Conflicting results were found for other knee moments. Several other stance phase variables were reported by individual studies only.


Peak knee flexion and knee flexion excursion during weight acceptance are smaller in the operated knee following total knee arthroplasty compared to healthy controls. There may also be a smaller peak knee flexion moment after arthroplasty compared to controls. Knee mechanics in the operated knee are not normal after total knee arthroplasty. Abnormal gait mechanics may predispose the individual to further joint degeneration, particularly in the nonoperated knee. Further research should focus on the effects of unilateral total knee arthroplasty on the nonoperated knee.

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Milner, C.E. Is gait normal after total knee arthroplasty? Systematic review of the literature. J Orthop Sci 14, 114–120 (2009).

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